As a near-infrared imager offering unprecedented spatial resolution, sensitivity, and sky coverage, LINC-NIRVANA enables a broad range of science, ranging from studies of the content of the Solar System to probing the largest physical scales accessible to ground-based observers.

The following paragraphs list science cases that are under consideration by the LINC-NIRVANA team. Clearly, these entries will evolve as the science context changes and the exact instrument performance becomes clear. Stay tuned, and feel free to contact the LN science team if you have ideas or interest.

Early Science

The following themes target single-eye Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics, which will be available early on. For more details, consult the Early Science page.


  • proper motions of known companions in multiple planet/stellar systems
  • centers of of young embedded clusters to study the low mass end of the IMF and multiplicity
  • protostellar systems - circumstellar disks and jets
  • Milky Way globular clusters - number of binaries, proper motions


  • stellar content of massive HII regions in M31
  • resolved stellar populations in nearby galaxies (stellar migration, star formation history, distance from tip of RGB)
  • morphology of z ~ 2 compact massive passive galaxies

On-Axis and Wide-Field Interferometric Science

At delivery, LN supports on-axis Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics for both the left and right eye of the LBT. Future upgrades envision interferometric imaging, both with a narrow, 2-arcsecond field and with the full 10.5 arcseconds of the science channel detector. The following is a list of science cases under consideration for these two modes.

LINC Design Reference Mission (DRM)

This is a group of science objectives for so-called “LINC” mode, which means interferometric imaging using on-axis reference sources (no Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics). By necessity, these are condensed descriptions. Contact the Science Team for more detail.


  • fragmentation of disks around forming high mass stars
  • centers of of young embedded clusters to study the low mass end of the IMF multiplicity
  • precise masses and radii of normal stars
  • jet launching in low- to high-mass proto-stars and YSOs
  • Milky Way globular clusters - number of binaries, proper motions
  • proper motions of stars in the Galactic Center
  • flare activity of SgrA* in the Galactic Center
  • NIR counterparts of accreting millisecond pulsars


  • origin of the IR bump in nearby AGN
  • resolving the circumnuclear environment of nearby AGN: tori, IR bump, outflows, host properties
  • accreted globular clusters in M31 and other nearby galaxies
  • imaging the jet in M87
  • double nuclei in merging ULIRGs under the microscope
  • probing merger-driven galaxy/AGN evolution with borderline type-1 QSOs
  • morphology and surface profiles of high-z galaxies in the field and clusters